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What type of foster carer should I be and why?

If you’ve decided to pursue a career in foster care then that’s amazing news to us. In our opinion, you’ve made one of the best decisions you’ll ever make and you’re about to embark on an incredible journey.

It may be that while you’ve decided foster care is the right vocation for you, you’re not quite sure what type of fostering role you’d be most suited to. We’ve highlighted five different foster care options currently available with Five Rivers, all of which will enable you to make a huge difference to a vulnerable child, young person or family.


Long-term foster care

Children and young people placed in long-term foster care will ideally remain with their foster family for as long as they are unable to live with their own family, or until they reach adulthood. This benefits the child in question because they’ll have consistency, routine and a stable family unit but it also means as a foster carer, you’re committed to raising a child or young person as you would if they were your own child. It also means that the foster child can really settle in a school environment and local community, by having the option to join social clubs or local sport teams.  We welcome enquiries from prospective or experienced foster carers wanting to join Five Rivers as long-term foster carers. We especially value the stability and continuity this provides to a child or young person that could otherwise spend their childhood moving around different foster homes.


Emergency/Short-term foster carer

Emergency and short-term foster care, provides support to children in need of a temporary but urgent foster placement.

Foster carers will need to be able to spring into action at short notice if a child needs to be removed from their existing accommodation and be ready to provide that child immediate care.

This type of foster care offers more flexibility than others as it’s not necessarily a full-time role, however you do need to be flexible in terms of being able to take a child in whenever needed, this could be in the middle of the night or during the holidays. Could you be an emergency foster carer? Read more here.


Parent and Child

As the name suggests, this type of foster care involves a parent and child (normally a mother and baby / young child) coming to stay with you for extra support and guidance. A challenging but rewarding role, a parent and child foster carer requires you to assess the parent’s ability to care for their child and report back to your social worker on their progress and any potential risks you’ve identified. This is a really crucial role within the UK’s fostering system as it’s often a last resort before removing the child from the parent’s care. Your feedback on their practical and emotional skills as a parent will help determine whether the child will be safe in their permanent care. Of course, wherever possible, we would prefer that a child is cared for by their birth parents, but only if it is the very best outcome for the child.

From a day-to-day point of view, you’ll certainly have your hands full. You’ll be supporting the young parent take on everyday parenting tasks such as nappy changes and sterilising baby equipment, and also caring for the child when needed. It’s worth noting that while this role will undoubtedly involve some sleepless nights, you could potentially be contributing to keeping a family together. Click here for a first-hand account from Five Rivers foster carer, Lesley , who is a parent and child foster carer alongside her two daughters.


Specialist foster care

As a specialist foster carer, it is likely that you’ll be providing much-needed care to a child or young person with complex needs, including serious medical conditions and emotional/ behavioural concerns. From a practical point of view, you’ll receive additional specialist training and high levels of support from the Five Rivers social work team, but this is a job that requires round-the-clock commitment and care. As a foster carer for a child with additional needs, you will be expected to attend medical appointments and potentially administer medication, special feeds or support the use of physical aids and equipment at home.


Respite carer

Respite foster care is a great part-time fostering option for those with existing work or family commitments. As a respite carer, you’ll be providing ‘respite’ for long term foster carers which will allow them to go on short breaks when needed, or to go on holiday. Typically, you can expect to keep a foster child in your care for respite purposes for anything from a weekend to a week or potentially for an extended period of time, if required and appropriate. We often find that children requiring respite care are those with additional needs such as physical or emotional disabilities. It’s worth bearing this in mind if you are considering becoming a respite foster carer, particularly if you have the relevant transferable skills that would make you a really valuable member of our respite carer team. You can find out more about relevant transferable skills here.

We welcome enquiries from both prospective and experienced foster carers. If you think you’d be a good fit for any of the above roles then we would love to hear from you. Request a call from the Five Rivers recruitment team here to find out more about starting your fostering journey with Five Rivers.

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